Pipe Tobacco Reviews

Drucquer & Sons Inns of Court Tobacco Review

“Spare me the unsolicited lecture about addiction, I don’t believe a man’s contentment comes from purity—it comes from innocent vices and the reasonable cognitive dissonance about them.”

I’m sharing that line because I spewed it in some haste to someone commenting about my pipe smoking.  The summer around my neck of the sagebrush has been hot, and literally, on fire.  The wildfire smoke from local and regional catastrophes has been awful.  As an outdoor smoker, this left me with fleeting moments to do what I do, and that includes writing about pipe tobacco.  It’s also made it rather difficult to deal with people who, on top of everything else going on, have been edgy and much more bold in their opinions of what everyone else is doing.  When I explained to this particular complainant I’m merely doing my job smoking this evil, briar crucible of terror, I gained a bit of much-needed pleasure by telling them to mind their own damned business in a decent, honest manner.

I’m unapologetic about being a new-school pipe smoker, but I have at least a handful of old-school values that were handed down to me.  I like old-school style tobacco, even if it isn’t the exact tobacco that might have existed decades ago, I can tell the attitude and poise is probably still there.  It’s not usually a whimsical, novelty tobacco, it was meant to develop a long-term relationship.  One in particular that I had the pleasure of exploring for the first time is Drucquer & Sons “Inns of Court.” 

The Drucquer & Son’s Inns of Court tin is peachy-yellow with a parchment shadowing, scripted lettering and sadly with a hefty warning label about nicotine obscuring what would normally be an attractive 100g tin.  There’s some history on the label about the Druquer & Sons courtesy of G.L. Pease (with which he himself has history), but I’ll add a little more context:  it all started in London in 1841 and nearly a century later found itself in Berkeley, California in 1928.  To make a long story short, it was a major Bay Area institution for many a smoker for a long time.  Knowing fairly well the spirit of brick and mortar tobacconists, the stories that I found from that time are heartwarming.  Do look them up.  I miss places like this, and they get rarer by the day.  What we do have is their tobacco and mixture recipes, and hopefully, at least a little hint of what it was like to fill up a bowl with something real from people who knew tobacco well.

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Inns of Court Tobacco Review
Inns of Court Tobacco

Inns of Court, like all D&S offerings, come in a 100g tin.  It’s a lot of tobacco to devote yourself to, but for many, it’s worth the investment.  Consisting mainly of Virginia and Burley, Perique and a dash of Latakia round out the mixture in lesser amounts.  The nose that comes off the just-popped tin of tobacco leans fruity and raisin-like, gently oaken in color, loose, and not too moist.  There’s a little hint of a berry vinegar faintly running around in there as well.  Packing my bowls sometimes was a challenge if they had a narrower chamber, as the springy Burley tends to like to make a fool of itself when being lit.  There’s nothing more exciting than a burning lapful of tobacco that decided to play “slinky.”  Please keep this in mind.

The first puffs of Inns of Court are brut-dry and bold.  The mouth-feel on this tobacco is almost astringent and it was helpful to have a drink handy.  Surprised by this as much as I was intrigued, I was immediately graced with a nice spicy, tongue-coating of just the right amount of Perique.  It’s not shy with the Perique, but it’s about as much as I myself like to handle:  piquantly present and not overpowering.  A pine-like wooden attitude holds up the smoke, as well as the faintest, and I mean impressively faint, amount of Latakia to round out the introductory flavor profile.  This tobacco is in no way, shape or form sweet, but the Virginias do add a cracker-crisp and baked quality as well as some slight tartness.  It is as simple as it is forthright. 

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By the middle of my bowls, I caught what was more of a coffee-like quality once the wood-like nose moved on.  I’m a fan of plain, black coffee, usually a medium-roast, Panamanian if possible.  The notes aren’t bitter, they lean almost herbal.  That’s what I like about Central American coffee.  Nearly all of the beginning flavors I mentioned in this tobacco become built-upon, evolving with each draw that range from coriander to the barest suggestion of cumin.  What Inns of Court provides is a wonderful tobacco purity that isn’t for the faint of heart, but in the spirit of the leaf itself.  I love nothing more than occasionally tasting tobacco in nearly pure form.  It’s nice to enjoy tobacco that hasn’t been mucked around with to the point of losing its identity.  It’s not easy to get used to, but once you understand this, I (or you) may wonder what lengths people actually go to with tobacco these days, be it flavor or varietal.  The result with Inns of Court is, and I’ll say it again, a totally un-sweet tobacco that is filled with savory nuances.   

The end of the bowl consistently finishes just as flavorful.  As Inns of Court builds its flavors gradually, it stays fairly consistent no matter which stage you’re smoking.  What starts out spicy and dry, moves on to sophisticated savories, and ends with a nutty, chicken meatiness and relatively surprising velvet mouth-feel.  Burley as a rule in most mixtures tends to stand out early on, but in Inns of Court, it patiently waits until the end.  This suited me just fine.  It’s fascinating to smoke this mixture.  My personal palate gets fatigued by Perique, and I found smaller bowls smoked of this allowed me to finish a portion of Inns of Court to completion more often.  One of the most unique qualties with this mix is when finishing a bowl, I often noticed a fire-roasted tomato quality that popped up: it was just the right taste to dwindle with the last tamps. 

I have heard from others who swear by this blend that there’s a chocolate/cocoa attitude floating around, but I didn’t find this.  Admittedly, the wildfire smoke has probably skewed my senses a little, but what I did find in each bowl as I got to know this tobacco was perfectly pleasant. 

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This is a stiff tobacco with a basic premise, and that’s to deliver leaf in a simple and genuine way.  There’s nothing artificial or suggestive about this tobacco, it’s simply an old-school style smoke.  The lack of flavoring or topping combined with gentle uses of Latakia and Perique suit it.  It’s a really good old-school style smoke.  The room note isn’t going to win any favors from people passing by willing to dig their nose where it doesn’t belong, it burned with no effort and was forgiving to interact with, it paired well with my favorite gin on ice with a slice of orange (a nice sweeter break between puffs), and if smoldered and puffed slowly, it provided a moderate amount of nicotine. 

I liked this tobacco, but it wouldn’t be my frequent or first choice.  That’s my problem, not the tobacco’s.  I like spending a little time with the old-school, but I need a few more dynamics long-term.  Smoking Inns of Court day-in and day-out might be just the thing if you want nothing besides just tobacco while you puff.  It doesn’t punch the senses, it has a frank and honest conversation with them.  I don’t think many inexperienced smokers would like this blend, but guys looking for something nostalgic and historic, I think this could satisfy your curiosity.  Who knows, it could be your go-to daily choice of puffing. 

They truly don’t make them like this anymore.

Drucquer & Sons Inns of Court Tobacco Review
  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 5 stars
  • 100%


Inns of Court, like all D&S offerings, come in a 100g tin. It’s a lot of tobacco to devote yourself to, but for many, it’s worth the investment.

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Desert rat, gonzo pipester, photographer, one hell of a cook
I recently clicked my way through the Drucquer & Sons blends at an online retailer to see what they're about, and I may go back to compare Inns of Court with the others. This review isn't a rave notice, but sometimes blends that aren't exciting the first few rounds evolve into more over time. One of these D&S blends could be one of those for me, perhaps. There's a big of arrogance in the fact that you can't sample these in smaller quantities. It's a choice of two larger tins, so a D&S order from me may tend to get shouldered over by blends more amenable to sampling in smaller quantities.
Great review, much appreciated and enjoyed. I have a 4 year old tin of Inns of Court in the cellar and now I’m conflicted whether to let it age a few more years or not. It sounds as though it could benefit from the additional dimensions aging can bring so I’ll likely let it be.
Thanks guys

I also wish there were 50g tins—I’m not sure if this keeps packaging cost down or they’re following tradition.

As for aging, it might take a while. It’s not the moistest leaf and there’s a lot of atmosphere in the tin that could affect the time spent with the tobacco doing the aerobic/anaerobic magic dance. The ten year plan on this stuff could be the ticket

👌
Thanks for the review, this one and The Levant Mixture have been on my to-do list for a while. I enjoyed the little social commentary too, and your handling of the rude comments was perfect.
Kyle, I have to ask--do you make that quote up on the fly? It's brilliant, poetic and very thought-provoking!

Adding it to my journal right now to ponder more on it.

Great review by the way!
gerryp: thank you!

hairvise: It...was kind of on the fly. I reduced it by a few word, but a nearby friend laughed so much at my poise he asked if I'd write it down. To be honest, after a few drinks, this is the distillate of that comment. I'm far less succinct in vocalization as I am with keyboard or pen. The spirit of what was said and how was not lost. Thank you for your ponderance of my emotional and possibly alcohol-fueled response to the common rabble I come across...

KW
Hello Mr. Weiss. I am completely unfamiliar with what you refer to as a "new-school pipe smoker" and I confess that I have never heard this term before. And since you refer to yourself as such, I hope you don't mind my question.

Would you, or someone, please explain to me what is meant by "new-school pipe smoker"? It would be much appreciated. Thank you.
    And along the way, perhaps you could tell me what an "old-school pipe smoker" might be, or what the old school is about in comparison with the new school? Thank you.
A kind hello in return Mr. Hanna!

I'd be happy to (at least try) to differentiate what I define as a "new-school pipe smoker" versus an "old-school pipe smoker." I apologize if the following is a tad waffling and includes some personal history, but I'll be a concise as I am able:

It took me about three years to feel "comfortable" smoking a pipe. This was after guidance and suggestions of those older than me (but not related to me), and it has been an interesting and enjoyable journey. Pipes and tobacco have a dynamic history with humans, it seems. Some things change drastically, some really do not.

I found myself working as a tobacconist at some point and it was there I was dealing with both younger, inexperienced customers as well as those who had been buying pipe tobacco since before I was born. I noticed both similarities and differences in the way they purchased and considered both their pipes and the leaf they put in them. I also heard commentary and was a part of discussions that supported my theory: there are defining generations of pipe smokers, and it came as no surprise.

As my pipe and I went from a curious, bumbling relationship to a harmonious one, I discovered tobacco used to be a cornerstone of past generations. In the case of the pipe, it was an important fixture of some peoples lives. The everyday man could pick up a briar at the drug store, along with his preferred leaf, and would smoke it in the morning, at work, on the bus, and in the evening. This was common. Film and movies reflected this, as often those art forms are reflections of the population at large. These are some of the people from which I myself learned to smoke. However, they could not smoke as they themselves once did in today's world. It was limited to their homes, porches, hunting trips or while visiting the local tobacconist. They would tell me stories of being in an office with pipe clenched in jaw, and how astonishingly /ordinary/ it was--and they missed that. When I asked them how they started, usually it was a pipe and tobacco handed down from an older family member--both brand in pipe and tobacco went hand-in-hand and sometimes didn't change for the life of the smoker. They liked what they liked, and did what they did, and at times were confused or critical of the way pipe smoking is approached today.

The younger generation, from my perspective behind the counter, they wanted it /all/. They read about their new interest on blogs and the internet, saw social media photos of other young people with pipes as either a prop or a new way to connect to unknown nostalgia, or maybe found something historical or fascinating to them. Sometimes the interest was fleeting, and I never saw them again. Other times I'd be at a bar and others my age would ask me questions, and get quite enamored by the prospect of doing something different, "old-school" and "cool." They still enjoy the pipe to this day. More often than not however a younger pipe smoker became interested because cigarettes had a bad rap, but they liked the /idea/ of smoking tobacco. Maybe it was something to do while camping with friends, a way to stand out or be unique, or it was a way to unwind after a day at work or school. For them to choose a tobacco was fascinating. Often it was I who was to introduce them to a mixture to smoke, rather than an older family member or friend. I would have done them a disservice had I given each of them the exact same thing, especially with so many choices at a tobacconist shop. Younger pipe and tobacco consumers cannot get enough choice, and they largely crave new--it's a fast pace of generally how things are going. Long gone are the heirlooms of father to son (or crazy grandmother to daughter, and yes, I have a story about that), handing down the how-to and what-to smoke with regards to the pipe. It's a global, connected world, and the humble pipe is going along for the ride.

To summarize, an "old-school pipe smoker" started out with wares and goods available and more readily, but in limited choice. it became a part of life in that it was a companion throughout the day. It's a cornerstone to their time, and isn't looked at as a novelty or a trend. It's also deeply important to them. Tobacco was and is to them a mainstay, perhaps a choice handed down, and it was commonplace, and they try to replicate this spirit the best they can. Usually they have one brand or perhaps a few, often a simple Virginia or a bulk aromatic they have known for years, a small selection of favorite pipes with a particular shape they enjoy, and they stick with that. It works for them. Simple, easy, no fuss.

A "new-school pipe smoker" would almost be seen as a passionate part-timer. Hip, self-motivated, and fun. They may not smoke every day, and if they do, it's often with a dizzying array of pipes and styles that push the boundaries of creative effort on some of the artisan briar turners. To compliment such a pipe, there are new, limited-run artisan blends and mixtures of pipe tobacco, component-heavy mixtures with a lot of Perique or a lot of Latakia. Flavors of aromatics have gone far beyond Cavendish or cherry, there's just about every flavor imaginable out there. I once saw a website with "bubble gum" pipe tobacco. I found the concept of this vile, but apparently it was something just novel enough to sell. This goes hand in hand with the popular interest in micro breweries, craft whiskeys and unique choices that dot the consumer landscape today. Choices, choices, choices. And the occasional selfie with that pipe that looks like Frankenstein's monster.

This isn't a hard and fast rule, more of a guided theory, a spectrum. There's some younger smokers that are more "old-school" and prefer one type of pipe and tobacco, and some spirited older customer that I considered "new-school" and get very excited about new pipes or tobaccos that just came out. The basic prerequisites are still there: patience, time and enjoyment.

Whatever the case, I find it wonderful that a new generation of pipe smokers exists at all, even if not under my observations, especially in the climate that tobacco has found itself recently. The spirit is simply different. As I mentioned earlier, pipes and tobacco exist dynamically with us and I hope /that/ never changes. My short time as tobacconist was great, and solidified the best advice I was given:

"Like what you smoke, and smoke what you like." I'm simply happy to be a part of it.
    Thank you for your considered reply Kyle. Very interesting. I like how you allowed room for ambiguity in your reply. As for me, I found it rather reassuring to know that even though I smoked my first bowl of tobacco in 1967, I currently have the characteristics of both the old school and the new school pipe smoker, and probably more of the latter than the former. Thus, for just a moment, you made me feel like a young man. Thanks again.
You're welcome, Fred--thank you for enduring my long-winded explanation. It was challenging to put it into context, and I enjoyed doing so.

I believe anyone that does what we do with pipes on a professional level has to have a foot into each "generation" of both new-school and old-school.

Thanks again, Fred
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